Willie makes good fist of fighting for cause

WILLIE Mason has endured one of his toughest NRL pre-seasons in order to last three minutes of the opening round.

And three minutes of the second.

Then as many rounds as it takes to floor Troy Flavell.

Mason will line up for his boxing debut against the former All Blacks lock in Auckland next Saturday as part of the Fight for Life event.

The Newcastle back-rower is well matched physically with Flavell. Both are 1.96 metres tall and weigh 119 kilograms.

But Mason hopes his three-month preparation with boxing legend Jeff Fenech and his older brother Les will give him the edge tactically.

"I think Flav's got a big right hand," said Mason, who has juggled Knights off-season training with sparring and boxing-specific fitness. "I've seen him throw it a few times in games, so I'd better keep an eye out for that one.

"He's a pretty big dude. He's very aggressive, he's played at the top for a long time and I've got a lot of respect for him."

Mason is not interested in trash-talking 36-year-old Flavell, who played 22 Tests for New Zealand and is now with French club Bayonne.

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